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Collector finds 1983 copper alloy cent

ANACS has certified its second 1983 Lincoln cent struck in a copper alloy. The coin, which weighs 3.08 grams, is described on the holder as being struck on a bronze blank and struck through grease. The firm graded the coin Extremely Fine 45.

ANACS 1225

The anonymous collector said he found it in a roll from a box of 50 rolls obtained from a bank in Washington, D.C., and indicated he will be putting it up for sale.

ANACS previously certified another 1983 cent as being struck on a “bronze blank” in late 2011 or early 2012, which weighed 3.04 grams and was graded by the firm as AU50. That coin can be viewed on the Internet at Coin Community Forum under the U.S. Modern Variety and Error Coins category.

The latest find is of an interesting composition with J.P. Martin, senior numismatist, saying ANACS commissioned a spectrographic analysis to determine its complete metallic composition. The results determined the coin to be 93.3556 percent copper, .009 percent silver, 6.5138 percent zinc, 0.0434 percent nickel, and 0.772 percent iron.

The standard composition of the pre-1983 cents in the homogeneous copper alloy is 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc with a weight of 3.11 grams. Cents from the later part of 1982 through present are stuck on planchets composed of a zinc core plated with copper. Each cent of this new composition weighs in at 2.5 grams. They struck both types of planchets in 1982.

While many old-timers suspected that some 1983 cents might have been inadvertently struck on a few solid copper planchets left over from 1982, the late Billy Crawford of South Carolina was the first to find one. Crawford’s find is detailed in a July 2008 issue of Numismatic News, with the electronic version of the story here:

I was made aware of the second known example on Aug. 6, 2010, by a lady who read my book Strike It Rich With Pocket Change. The Crawford specimen was recorded in it. Eventually she sent it to me, and I brought it to the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in Chicago in August 2011, where noted error coin expert and dealer Fred Weinberg of Encino, Calif., inspected it and stated that it weighed within tolerance of a solid copper alloy cent and bore the correct surface characteristics (no plating blisters, etc.).

Weinberg suggested that it be sent in to the Professional Coin Grading Service for authentication and encapsulation. PCGS attributed it as genuine – not gradable and mentioned on the holder that it was a “Transitional Error.” The coin had a dark area on the lower reverse, and both Weinberg and I thought it might not be gradable.

Nonetheless, it was only one of two examples of this error known at the time and a fantastic find no matter what. That specimen was reported by me in Numismatic News in May 2012 and can be viewed here: The owner told me she later sold it in a Heritage Auction, with it garnering around $1,500.

Other related finds in recent times have been the only known 1982-D small date and 1983-D cents stuck on copper alloy planchets. Both were reported in my Numismatic News stories and both were sold last year by Stack’s Bowers. The 1982-D sold for $18,800, and the 1983-D sold for $17,625. That’s not a bad profit for two Lincolns pulled from circulation at face value by the finders!

Both coins, with more detailed information, can be found in my Numismatic News story here:

Additionally, a 1989-D Lincoln cent struck on a pre-1983 brass cent planchet graded PCGS MS65 RD sold for $3,525 at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ Aug. 11 Rarities Night sale in 2016. A 1990-D cent struck on a pre-1983, 3.1 gram copper alloy planchet graded PCGS MS64 Brown was sold by Heritage Auctions for $5,540 in January 2018.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of Sarasota, Fla., authenticated and graded a 1983-D Lincoln cent as being struck on a brass planchet of a composition of 98 percent copper and 2 percent zinc that weighs 3.0 grams. While a solid copper alloy planchet, David Camire indicated to me in an email that the weight and composition was too far off for NGC to call it a Transitional Error struck in a U.S. cent planchet. Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly worth a lot more than the face value the finder paid for it!

With all these finds, one might start wondering what’s next.

Let me lay out a possibility.

2009 is the only year since 1982 that the old copper alloy was used, and it was restricted to the numismatic issues packaged in proof sets and uncirculated coin sets.

Who will be the first person to find a 2010 Lincoln cent struck on a solid copper alloy planchet left over from numismatic cent production in 2009?

It could be you.

Be sure you are weighing your 2010 cents from all mints, and let us know if you find anything.

Ken Potter is the official attributer of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America. More information on how to join CONECA can be obtained by contacting him via email at An educational image gallery may be viewed on his website at

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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